Fantasia Barrino Is Illiterate

Fantasia Barrino, a high school dropout who won “American Idol,” confessed to being illiterate on ABC’s 20/20.

Fantasia Barrino Reveals She’s Illiterate

Photo Singer Fantasia Barrino performs on ABC's 'Good Morning America' summer concert series in a New York file photo from July 22, 2005. Barrino reveals in her memoirs that she is functionally illiterate and had to fake her way through some scripted portions the televised talent show, which she won in 2004. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen, File) “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino reveals in her memoirs that she is functionally illiterate and had to fake her way through some scripted portions the televised talent show, which she won in 2004.

“You’re illiterate to just about everything. You don’t want to misspell,” Fantasia told ABC’s “20/20.” “So that, for me, kept me in a box and I didn’t, wouldn’t come out.” The 21-year-old R&B singer says she’s signed record deals and contracts that she didn’t read and couldn’t understand. But the hardest part, she said, is not being able to read to Zion, her 4-year-old daughter. “That hurts really bad,” she said, adding that she is now learning to read with tutors.

In her memoir, “Life is Not a Fairy Tale,” which she dictated to a freelance writer, Fantasia also said she was raped in the ninth grade by a classmate. She says the boy was disciplined, but she blamed herself for the attack. She dropped out of high school that year and became an unwed mother at 17.

Given her command of English grammar and her educational and social background, I would never have guessed this.

The irony is that she’s learning to read, something most of us do before our 10th birthday, now that she’s a millionaire and almost certainly set financially for life. It’s commendable that she’s doing so at this point, especially since the motivation appears to be concern for her daughter. Still, this once again proves that, just as education is no guarantee of financial success, neither does lack of it necessarily preclude becoming wealthy.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jim Henley says:

    Dammit, I just found out my irony shots aren’t up to date!

  2. kyla says:

    Why did your parents let you drop out of school and why didn’t your parents ask to see your homework?

  3. Dallas says:

    I think it’s utterly ridiculous to have someone like Fantasia as a “role model” to little kids around the world. What kind of an example is she providing them? Is it okay to drop out school? Don’t worry about doing your homework or trying to learn how to read. I don’t understand how she could of made it through to the ninth grade if she was illiterate. Who cares that she made American Idol and her bank account is now in the seven digits. Without this break, where would she be? An unwed mother at the age of 17 working odd jobs to make ends meet! It angers me to think that kids look up to someone like this! All I can say is GOOD LUCK!

  4. Monica.H says:

    Well your wrong its good to have people like fantasia as rolemodels cause they have learned form thier mistakes and can help to teach and encourage others. You can’t just judge people if you don’t know what the hell they have been through. She was freaking raped how would you like it if someone did that to you or your little sis or mother ?

  5. Monica.H says:

    Well your wrong its good to have people like fantasia as rolemodels cause they have learned form thier mistakes and can help to teach and encourage others. You can’t just judge people if you don’t know what the hell they have been through. She was freaking raped how would you like it if someone did that to you or your little sis or mother ?

  6. Monica.H says:

    Well your wrong its good to have people like fantasia as rolemodels cause they have learned form thier mistakes and can help to teach and encourage others. You can’t just judge people if you don’t know what the hell they have been through. She was freaking raped how would you like it if someone did that to you or your little sis or mother ?

  7. Susan wheatley says:

    I think that the person that posted the comment on how horrible it is for Fantasia to be a role model is the ignorant one. Ok, so she does not know how to read, at least she has taken the step needed to correct the problem. That says a lot about her character right there. I bet two years ago you voted for her to win American Idol too! It is a shame that one thing can change a person’s opinion of someone. I bet if she would have never came forward with this information, everyone that is degrading her now, would still be buying her cd’s and siniging her songs. This world is full of hypocrits. All I have to say is Fantasia you are still my girl. I had your back through American Idol and I will continue to have your back. Has anyone heard that Lyfe Jennings song “Hypothetically” redone with Fantasia? TALENT is the word that descibes Fantasia the best, even if she does struggle with literacy.

  8. Amanda says:

    I think that jealousy plays a big role in the comment made about Fantasia. She cant read, but she has other talents that has taken her further than an English major with a masters would have. She can sing her ass off. Not everyone can do that. Dont judge someone that you have no clue about because her voice was heaven sent. God prepared this life for her and he knew exactly what was going to come of it and exactly when it was going to happen. God bless you Fantasia and you keep on singing and touching lifes and hearts the way you do with your music.

  9. cz says:

    I was shocked at first but, as a teacher I commend her for having great memorization skills.

  10. Llauna says:

    I would like to commend Fantasia, for being honest about this. Alot can be said about someone that can admit fault, and inturn take on criticism for something as embarassing as this. I don’t feel the blame is solely on Fantasia (her mom is functionally illeterate as well), I blame the lack of real teaching in schools, today, especially in Black America. You all have to realize that in black schools, the main focus is not always the books. I certainly hope that Fantasia uses this experience as a tool to better her situation and prevent the same thing from happening to her child.

    As far as her singing–NO ONE CAN DENY HER TALENT!! Keep singing Fantasia, and may God Bless you and your family.

  11. mary king says:

    I have a problem with the last statement about Black Americans. There is no difference between blacks and whites except skin color. God made us all the same and for you to talk about Fantasia like that really tick me off. Since you want to get all racial, people like you are peculiar. You don’t have any training what so ever. Blacks today are very sucessful. You are just doubting us because of the past. Just hope that your daughter or son, if you can find someone not illiterate to have your child, don’t drop out.

  12. DALLAS, WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO SAY THAT SHE CAN’T BE ANYONE’S ROLE MODEL? WHAT KIND OF EXAMPLE YOU’RE SETTING FOR KIDS? AT LEAST SHE HAVE PROVEN A POINT THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE OR WHAT MISTAKES YOU MADE IN THE PAST, IT’S NEVER TO LATE TO LEARN OR MAKE THINGS BETTER.YOU LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES AND YOU FIX THEM, JUST BECAUSE SHE’S A CELEBRITY, SHE MAKES MISTAKES JUST LET YOU, ONLY SHE ADMITS TO IT…BASTARD!!

  13. jay-r says:

    exuse me but fantasia is not a bad example on children at all if that was the case why is she getting tutors and shit like that to help her get better she has a 7yo daughter to take care of so she did what she had to do and u want to know where should would probably en up if she didnt win she would be HUSTLEN 4 her and her daughter and i bet she thanks god 4 every moment….u are a bitch! to say stuff like that about fantasia she is a beautiful woman and a very good person and u wonder why she is that way because she believe is GOD and faith thats why she is a millionaire and your not…..fantasia do what chu doing and dont let these fuckin haters put u down cuz u got us your fans and u got a family and most important u got GOD I LOVE U FANTASIA……..

  14. Llauna says:

    I am responding to Mary King, who commented on my last post. First of all, you must realize that we live in a very racial world, if you want to pretend that race doesn’t matter, today–then you are living in a fairy tale. Anyway that’s a totally different issue.

    Futhermore, I was not talking about Fantasia, if you read my whole comment.

    And for you to comment on my training…I am a very well educated Black Female. I know that there are plenty of blacks that are educated. However, if we examine black and white schools across the U.S. you will see a huge difference. But that’s research you should do not me.

    Wake up, Honey.